Chrissie Romano leads a band, where she writes and sings highly personalized songs. She’s agreed to tell Skope a little more about her band’s music.
@skopemag: There’s a Ken Romano in the Chrissie Romano Band. Is this last name a coincidence, or are you related? If so, how?
Chrissie Romano: We are related. Ken and I are married, while we have been married for over 5 years, we have known each other and have been working in music together for a lot longer than that.
@skopemag: Why did you call the new album Somewhere along the way?
Romano: “Somewhere along the way” is part of the first line of the bridge in “When Will I?,” one of the album tracks. The first line of the bridge is “Somewhere along the way, I learned that it was more than OK, to leave me if it meant you were happy babe.” This song and the album in general reflect on some universal experiences that people, me included, go through in relationships. It is a nod to all of us women, and some men, that are quick to abandon our own needs, ourselves in fact, to keep others, whether it is a lover, a spouse, a parent, or child happy. I really love the song and as I looked over the album collectively, I realized that a common theme was the need to really love ourselves enough to be OK with who we are. To stay with ourselves no matter what. So, somewhere along the way we may have learned behaviors that lead us into unhappiness but somewhere along the way we can also change it all.
@skopemag: Many of these songs almost sound as though you’re giving yourself a pep talk. Would you describe some of your music as self-therapy?
Romano: Music is completely healing for me, there is something magical about the combination of words and music that can overhaul an emotional state. For example, when my mother passed away, the song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” allowed me to access the deep sadness I felt and release it. It literally helped me through the grieving process, in particular the line “If happy little blue birds fly above the rainbow why, oh why, can’t I?” Something comes together that can enable an internal movement. So yes, music is a way of processing situations in life, anything that stirs a deep emotion within me. I write to convey that and to move through it and my hope in sharing it is that it can help other people though any of the same situations. That it can help people feel less alone in their emotions – good and bad. If you look at the song “Angel Wings,” I wrote that song for a father who lost his daughter to a cancer called neuroblastoma. I woke up in the middle of the night and saw that she had passed, I accessed the sadness he must be feeling and wrote the first verse and chorus of that song. While it is a song about a specific situation, my hope is that it can give others hope too. I write to help myself cope with emotions not just about situations that are negative, but also to express love and to comment on the state of the world and my thoughts/feelings about that.
@skopemag: Who are some of your biggest songwriting inspirations?
Romano: There are quite a few but I would say some of them are Paul Simon, Melissa Etheridge, Shawn Colvin, Ani DiFranco, Melissa Ferrick, The Indigo Girls and Alanis Morrisette.
@skopemag: What are some of the challenges of being the female in a female-led band?
Romano: Well, sometimes the challenge is just that…being the ONLY female in the band. 😊 One of the other challenges is that a lot of people, most often men, just assume that I wrote the lyrics, and the guys wrote the music. This is one of the things I find so frustrating, without even asking there are assumptions made. But that is usually people outside of the band. I am lucky in that all the guys in the band are these amazing humans with oodles of talent that take my songs and make them even better.
To listen to the album on Spotify:
@skopemag: Do you write all the words and music to your songs, or do you collaborate with your band?
Romano: I do write all the words and music. My writing process starts out solitary, I have lots of one-liners that I have captured, and I sit with my guitar and I write the words and music almost simultaneously. Or I will write and entire verse and then figure the music. Once I have a complete song, I will bring it to rehearsal and play it for the band and we will then start jamming on it. Then we will start performing it live and it starts to grow and evolve, and it takes develops a much larger personality. In some ways it is like giving birth and watching your child grow. I bring this infant song down, with all the lyrics and chords and the guys work their magic adding so much color and feel.
@skopemag: Which of the songs on the new album mean the most to you, and why?
Romano: I think as an artist I fall in love with what I create, so they all mean a lot to me. But if I had to pick the ones that mean the most it would be as follows:
i. Resilient Me – it is about overcoming a difficult period where it seemed the bad would never end. But the good news is that you can get through it and change, and you end up better than you were before. It’s an uplifting song about the capacity to change and grow
ii. Hearts & Eyes – I wrote this for my father when I was taking care of him at the end of his life. The fact that past resentments can completely prevent you from seeing the actual human rather than the father (parent etc.). It is about the struggle to forgive; it means a lot because he passed away in September of 2020.
iii. When Will I? – this is the quintessential “hey girl – love yourself”; The “hey girl… don’t lose yourself in this relationship again” song. The song is a reminder to all of us who don’t realize just how strong we are, that we are in fact… completely enough and loved just as we are.
@skopemag: The new album has been described as more Americana than the last one. Why is guitar more prominently featured on the album, and were there any particular artists you were listening to before (and during) the making of it that helped shape its sound?
Romano: I love guitar and that folky rock sound, so while the album may not be completely Americana it is more so in that style than the previous album. It is quite hard for me to categorize the style of music I write, and so many places require some sort of
classification. At the end of the day, I just write from the heart and this is what comes out. The desire to feature guitar more prominently comes from just being in love with that sound in general. I am big fan of guitar and I really love the different colors and sounds that can come from the good ole guitar. Shawn Colvin was in more of a rotation during the making of this album – especially the song “Polaroids”. Of course, I am always listening to Ani DiFranco, Melissa Ferrick and Melissa Etheridge.
@skopemag: Did you have hesitation in releasing in the middle of a pandemic?
Romano: Not at all. I think people are going through a lot emotionally and recording the album during the pandemic and releasing it felt right. It helped me and I hope that those folks who have listened to it have had some of their emotional burden lifted and have gotten some joy from it. We are all stuck at home, so at least people have something to listen to. If they choose to 😊
@skopemag: Now that you have this album under your belt, what’s up next for you and your band?
Romano: We are planning on having late CD Release show once the pandemic has gotten well enough under control to have a good turnout. We will hopefully start doing some regional shows! We are always working on new material so at some point we will start beginning the recording of the next album.